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Get ready for the best stuffed pasta shells filled with fluffy ricotta, melted mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, topped with marinara sauce, and baked to perfection. This ultimate comfort food is simple to make, can be prepared ahead of time, and cooks in just 30 minutes! This easy stuffed shells recipe is a classic that’s perfect for one.

Many of our delicious single serving side dishes pair perfectly with stuffed shells. Try a tangy cucumber salad or a fresh caprese salad alongside your meal. Add a slice of crusty French bread for a complete and satisfying dinner.

Why You’ll Love This Stuffed Shells Recipe

  • Easy to make: Stuffed shells are easier to make than lasagna! Simply cook the pasta, mix the filling, stuff the shells, and bake.
  • Super cheesy filling: We mix creamy ricotta, shredded mozzarella, and grated Parmesan cheese with garlic powder and Italian seasoning to create the glorious filling.
  • Tender baked pasta shells: We bake the stuffed shells covered first to trap in as much moisture as possible, then we uncover the pan to melt the cheese.
  • Recipe doubles well: This recipe is made with 6 jumbo shells which we find to be the perfect amount for a single meal. If you’d like to make stuffed shells for two or to simply have a little extra for another meal, just double the ingredient amounts.
stuffed shells on a blue plate surrounded by tomato sauce.

Ingredients

stuffed shells ingredients on a kitchen counter.

If you have any ingredients leftover from this single serving stuffed shells recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Shells: Use 6 jumbo pasta shells, perfect for stuffing. Store dry shells in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, and they’ll last up to 2 years.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Choose whole milk ricotta for a thicker, creamier texture that melts better than lower-fat versions. If you’ve got leftover ricotta cheese, consider using it in Lasagna Rollups, Baked Ziti, or Ricotta Cookies.
  • Mozzarella Cheese: Used both in the filling and on top. Shred your own mozzarella for better melting, as pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives that can affect melting. Extra mozzarella can be used in Sheet Pan Lasagna, Chicken Tetrazzini, or a Personal Pepperoni Pizza.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan works best for the filling.
  • Seasonings: Use salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning (a mix of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary). If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use any of these herbs instead.
  • Marinara Sauce: Use your favorite store-bought tomato or marinara sauce, or try our small batch homemade tomato sauce recipe.

Recipe Variations

I love this classic stuffed shells recipe, but you might enjoy these delightful variations.

If adding extra ingredients, cook 2 to 3 additional shells to accommodate the extra filling.

  • Protein: Stir about 2 ounces of cooked crumbled ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage into the cheese mixture.
  • Vegetables: Add mushrooms, spinach, kale, squash, or sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Sauce: Swap out the marinara sauce for tomato sauce or creamy Alfredo sauce.
  • Cheese: Use other types of cheese instead of the ones listed in this recipe. Try gruyere, fontina, or another good melting cheese.
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How To Make Stuffed Shells For One

These step-by-step photos and instructions are here to help you visualize how to make this recipe. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (177°).
  2. Cook the pasta: Cook the shells in water according to package instructions, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, then drain and set the shells aside.
jumbo pasta shells cooking in boiling water.
  1. Make the filling. Mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a medium-sized bowl.
ricotta cheese and seasonings in a mixing bowl.
  1. Stir in the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
stuffed shells filling in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  1. Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 5×5-inch baking dish. Using a spoon, fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
six unbaked stuffed pasta shells in a small square baking dish.
  1. Spoon additional marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over the tops.
stuffed pasta shells topped with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  1. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover the dish, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  3. Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley and enjoy.
baked pasta shells in a white square baking dish topped with fresh basil.

Expert Tips

  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Stuffed shells come together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Although this dish is easy to make, you might have questions about the process and many of your questions may be answered in the Ingredient Notes section and from the process photos and pro tips above. 
  • Undercook your shells by 1 to 2 minutes because they will continue to cook when they bake. Most package instructions will note the time needed to perfectly cook al dente pasta. Al dente means firm to the bite. Overcooking the shells will make them flimsy and hard to stuff.
  • Grate your cheese instead of purchasing pre-shredded bags of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents and preservatives and does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated or shredded cheeses.

Make Ahead And Storage Instructions

  • To Make Ahead: Prepare the shells up to the point of baking. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate. When ready to bake, let the dish come to room temperature while preheating the oven. Bake as directed.
  • Leftovers: Store leftover stuffed shells in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Warm leftovers in the microwave or oven until heated through and the cheese is melted.
  • To Freeze: Assemble the shells in a baking dish, cover with foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size baking dish should I use?

For our small batch stuffed shells recipe, a 5×5-inch baking dish works best. You can find the exact dish we use on our store page.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, you can double the ingredient amounts. Use a baking dish with a base area of around 50 square inches, like an 8×2-inch round pan.

Do I have to use ricotta cheese in this stuffed shells recipe?

No, you can substitute ricotta with drained and mashed full-fat cottage cheese.

Can I make stuffed shells ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the stuffed shells and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before baking.

Can I freeze the stuffed shells?

Yes, you can freeze them before baking. Just thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.

a stuffed pasta shell filled with ricotta on a fork

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this single serving stuffed shells recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Stuffed Shells For One

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 45 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
A classic stuffed shells recipe made with 3 types of cheese covered in Marinara sauce and baked to perfection. A single serving comfort food classic!

Ingredients 
 

  • 6 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
  • ¼ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • teaspoon garlic powder
  • teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese -divided
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup marinara sauce -divided
  • Optional: fresh basil or parsley for topping
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Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 350°F (177°).
  • Cook the shells in water according to package instructions, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking to the pot, then drain and set aside.
  • Mix together the ricotta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Stir in ¼ cup of mozzarella and the parmesan cheese.
  • Spread ¼ cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a 5×5-inch baking dish. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture and place in the baking dish.
  • Spoon the remaining ¼ cup of marinara sauce over the shells, then sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese over the tops.
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Uncover the dish, then bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
  • Sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley if desired and enjoy hot.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Read through the entire recipe and the Ingredient Notes section of the post and gather your ingredients. Stuffed shells come together quickly so it’s a good idea to have everything ready before beginning. Although this dish is easy to make, you might have questions about the process and many of your questions may be answered in the Ingredient Notes section and from the process photos and pro tips above. 
  • Undercook your shells by 1 to 2 minutes because they will continue to cook when they bake. Most package instructions will note the time needed to perfectly cook al dente pasta. Al dente meaks firm to the bite. Overcooking the shells will make them flimsy and hard to stuff.
  • Grate your cheese instead of purchasing pre-shredded bags of cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents and preservatives and does not melt as smoothly as freshly grated or shredded cheeses.

Nutrition

Serving: 6stuffed shells, Calories: 467kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Sodium: 1068mg, Potassium: 428mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 995IU, Vitamin C: 9mg, Calcium: 488mg, Iron: 2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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I’m Joanie and I’m incredibly happy you’re here! Our aim is to inspire individuals with access to single serving recipes, education, and a supportive community that will enable them to enjoy the preparation of a meal that will nourish both body and soul.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. teachermrw says:

    Your stuffed shells dish is delicious! I have prepared it for my brother and me twice already. Thank you!

  2. Javon Cubic says:

    I don’t how 6 jumbo shells are going to fit in the 5 inch baking dish

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Hi Javon, Six jumbo shells fit perfectly in the 5-inch baking dish, just take a look at the photos in the post.

    2. Javon Cubic says:

      Sorry I have never cooked with the shells. I thought they were bigger. Looking forward to making them .

  3. J Hegyi says:

    Great recipe.

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Thank you!